South Mountain by Rick Reeve

South Mountain by Rick Reeve
South Mountain by Rick Reeve depicting the wounding of General Garland

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

South Mountain's Confederate commanders at Gettysburg

Several of the key players in the combat along the ridges and gaps of South Mountain would survive the battle and accompany the Confederate Army during it's second invasion of the North culminating in the Battle of Gettysburg. Here are just a few that may be of interest.

Brigadier General John Bell Hood : At South Mountain, he commanded a division which consisted of the famous Texas Brigade, under Colonel William T. Wofford, and the brigade of Colonel Evander Law. Hood was under arrest for a getting into an argument with Nathan Evans over captured ambulance wagons following the Battle of Second Manassas. As his division advanced up the mountainside, pleas from the soldiers eventually convinced Robert E. Lee to release Hood from arrest, giving him back his command. They advanced to Turner's Gap and filed down the Wood Road towards Fox's Gap. His division went into line of battle, fixed bayonets and charged into the advancing Union troops of the XI Corps. They halted the Union advance and are credited with mortally wounding the XI Corps commander Jesse Reno. His division would be the rearguard as Lee retreated towards Sharpsburg. At Gettysburg, Hood would command a division with the rank of Major General. Attacking late in the afternoon of the second day, Hood would be wounded by a shell fragment that would cause him to lose the use of his left arm for the rest of his life.

Brigadier General Richard B. Garnett: During the First Corps assault on South Mountain, Garnett commanded the brigade of George Pickett, who was wounded in the Seven Days' Battles. Garnett's men were in Hagerstown when the fighting broke out at Fox's Gap on the morning of September 14th. Garnett's men, along with the rest of James Longstreet's command, made a forced march to Boonsboro. Arriving on at the base of the mountain in the early afternoon, Garnett was rushed to the summit after the Union First Corps had all but broken the Confederate brigade holding the ridges to the left of Turner's Gap. His brigade arrived just in time to help halt the Union division under John Hatch before it could sweep over the mountain. His brigade would be pulled off the mountain that night. At Gettysburg, he would command a brigade in the division of Major General George Pickett and he would fall during the assault on the Union center on July 3rd. His remains would never be identified and he was buried in a mass grave with his men.

Brigadier General James Kemper: At South Mountain, he commanded a brigade in the division of David Rumph Jones. His brigade, like Garnett's was in Hagerstown when hostilities broke out on the mountain. After a forced march, his brigade fell into line to the left of Garnett's and helped repulse John Hatch's Division of Union infantry. His brigade would be pulled off the mountain that night and it would take up position south of Sharpsburg. At Gettysburg, he would still command his brigade and it would be a part of George Pickett's Division. During the assault on July 3rd, Kemper would be wounded severely and captured by Union soldiers. He would be rescued by his men and borne back to Seminary Ridge where he would plead with General Lee that "do full justice for this division for its work today." During the retreat from Gettysburg, he would be captured and held in a Union prison until September when he was exchanged.

Colonel Evander Law: At the fight at South Mountain, he commanded a brigade in Hood's division. During the Confederate counterattack in the fading light at Fox's Gap, Law's brigade would suffer the most losing several men killed, wounded, and captured. At Gettysburg, Law would command an all Alabama brigade in the Confederate assault through the Devils Den and against Little Round Top. Following the wounding of General Hood, Law rose to command of the division but his performance was lacking because he did not surrender command of his brigade. The other brigadiers in the division recalled later that they never recieved any orders from Law. He would keep the division in line over the its hard earned ground on July 3rd.
Colonel Eppa Hunton: Commanded the 8th Virginia in Garnett's brigade during the Battle of South Mountain. His regiment resisted the Union assault of Hatch's division losing 11 men out of 34 in the entire regiment. At Gettysburg, he would lead his regiment against the Union positions on Cemetery hill during Pickett's Charge. He would be wounded and his regiment would lose its flag to the 16th Vermont.

Colonel John B. Gordon: At South Mountain, he would command the 6th Alabama in the brigade of Robert Rhodes. His regiment was deployed as skirmishers and help resist the assault of General George Meade's division against the Frostown Gap. His regiment would help resist the Union advance for nearly three hours until Confederate reinforcements arrived. His regiment would retreat off the mountain that night. At Gettysburg, now holding the rank of Brigadier General, he commanded a brigade in the Jubal Early's division. On the first day, his brigade practically broke the Union line by itself and he requested the surrender of the town and his brigade occupied the town for the remainder of the battle.

Brigadier General Robert Rodes: At South Mountain, he would command the brigade that held Frostown Gap against George Meade's Pennsylvania Reserve Division for nearly three hours. His brigades resistance was called "Rodes Resistance" and earned him alot of credit in the eyes of his superiors. He would be promoted to Major General following Chancellorsville and he command a division at Gettysburg. His division helped drive Union First and Eleventh Corps through the streets of Gettysburg. His division would remain in place for the rest of the battle.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Tim,

    I stumbled across your blog today and enjoyed it very much. Sorry to introduce myself in the comment section as opposed to in an email, but I wanted to let you know about a book that Savas Beatie published: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume 1, South Mountain, edited by Tom Clemens. I'd like to give you some more information about the book and also offer a couple items from the book and author that I thought you would be interested in for your blog. Please feel free to email me directly to discuss:


    Sarah Keeney